Editorial: Corps of Engineers should FUSRAP-up West Lake's toxic waste

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

August 9, 2015 

The best solution for cleaning up radioactive waste buried at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton is to give control of the site to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps runs the tongue-twistingly named Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP), which controls every other site in St. Louis County that is contaminated with nuclear waste. The radioactive waste in Bridgeton came from another location that is now a FUSRAP site.

At those other sites, the Corps has either cleaned up the waste or is in the process of doing it. Some of the waste at those sites was the waste that has been at West Lake, which became a dump site in the 1950s. Radioactive materials, created as a byproduct of projects at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, were dumped in a 200-acre hole there beginning in 1973.

Four years after that, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigated the site and published a report. TheEnvironmental Protection Agency designated West Lake as a Superfund site in 1990, making it eligible for special federal funding to clean up the nation’s most hazardous waste sites.

The EPA has had control of the site for 25 years, but nothing has been removed. Not far away, another part of the landfill is burning. Euphemistically, the below-ground fire is called an SSE, a “subsurface smoldering event,” by the EPA and Republic Services, the Phoenix-based waste hauler that owns the site. In the presence of oxygen, the SSE would become a fire.


Should the burn reach the radioactive material, bad things would happen. The EPA says that’s unlikely, as “all current data suggest the SSE remains distant from the areas containing known RIM (radiologically impacted material).” We must hope the EPA is more accurate than it is fast-acting.

The EPA has killed a lot of trees ordering study after study of the contaminated landfill and explaining why gathering data and performing evaluations is better than taking action. Activists have speculated that maintaining the Superfund site provides job security for EPA bureaucrats in Region 7 (headquartered in Kansas City and overseeing four Midwest states).

The corps FUSRAP program often digs up and disposes of waste at sites it controls. The prospect that it would do that at West Lake raises both hope and concern. Hope, because it would be a final remedy. It would end such environmental worries as radioactive runoff seeping into groundwater and escaping radon and radium gases, the daughter products from uranium decay, which can cause cancer if inhaled or ingested.

Concern, because no matter how precise and careful an excavation may be, it will cause corollary problems.

The primary problem is expense. The budget for all FUSRAP sites around the country is in the neighborhood of $100 million, and there already are other projects waiting to be put on the FUSRAP agenda. Getting West Lake onto the agenda and funded could take years, with the eventual solution even further off.

Corps spokesman Mike Petersen told the Post-Dispatch’s Jacob Barker this month that the agency is “not funded for a project of that scope.”

St. Louis-area members of Congress have been pushing for the FUSRAP solution. The situation got more complicated recently when the Chicago-based Exelon Corp., one of the parties potentially liable for cleanup at the site, said it had documents indicating it may not be liable for all of the waste and asked for more testing to determine the extent of its responsibility.

That prompted the St. Louis-area congressional delegation to call for a new review of whether the site can be moved from EPA control to the Corps. Members of the delegation told Mr. Barker that their understanding is that West Lake isn’t already under FUSRAP because a private contractor (for a former subsidiary of Exelon) contaminated the site, not the government.

It gets more complicated: According to a letter the delegationsent to the Department of Energy, which used to run FUSRAP and had liability for early nuclear weapons activities, the DOE may have had jurisdiction over the material Exelon says it may not be liable for.

Republic Services has opposed moving control of the site to the Corps. “Transferring control of the site to (the Corps) at this point would delay the remedial action and is unnecessary,” Richard Callow, a spokesman for Republic, told Mr. Barker in an email.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who is suing Republic for the burning portion of the Bridgeton Landfill and has been critical of the EPA’s actions at West Lake, likened changing agencies to “getting trapped in a federal bureaucratic Rube Goldberg machine.”

As the smoldering potato of liability and responsibility is being tossed around among corporate, federal and state officials, area residents and environmental activists remain frustrated.

Kay Drey, a longtime anti-nuclear activist, says it’s clear to her that the radioactive materials — which she says are some of the most toxic known to mankind — must be excavated and the site cleaned. It’s long past time for that to have been done, she says.

Dawn Chapman, a nearby resident who has been active in seeking removal of the waste, says that after 25 years of waiting for the EPA to do something, she is skeptical that the agency will deliver on its promise of proposing a remedy by January 2017.

She’s right. Twenty-five years is long enough. The federal government should step up and rid this corner of St. Louis of a festering and potentially dangerous problem. Send the bills out later. The Corps of Engineers should FUSRAP it up and get rid of it.

NRC Delays Callaway Nuclear License Extension

NRC Delays Callaway Nuclear License Extension 

On December 10, 2014, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission delayed the licnese extension of Ameren Missouri's Callaway 1 nuclear reactor. The temporary delay is a result of MCE's request for a hearing with the NRC. MCE appluads the NRC's decision not rush the license extension given the pending legality of its newly published Continued Storage rules for high level nuclear wastes, which will be determined by the US Court of Appeals in the near future while the current operating license for Callaway 1 does not expire until 2024. 

Callaway1 2

Representative Long Misses the Boat on Clean Water

Heather B. Navarro, Executive Director

Printed in the Springfield News-Leader on May 20, 2015

Representative Billy Long’s letter of May 16th regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule to protect clean water is a flood of misinformation. The proposed Clean Water Protection Rule is a joint effort by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect our water – the water that 1 in 3 Americans depend on for drinking. Normal farming and ranching practices do not require permits and will not under this rule. Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the State of Missouri has been delegated the responsibility to approve and enforce regulations that protect water quality for a variety of uses including drinking, playing, and wildlife habitat. Over the past 40 years there has been confusion about how to implement these regulations. The proposed rule seeks to clear up these inconsistencies for the benefit of everyone.

Read more: Representative...

Groups Applaud Bipartisan Call for DOE Review of the West Lake Landfill

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                                 July 22, 2015

Contact:               Dawn Chapman (Just Moms STL) 314-739-7634

Heather Navarro (Missouri Coalition for the Environment) 314-808-4345

Gale Thackrey (Franciscan Sisters of Mary) 618-304-2660


Groups Applaud Bipartisan Call for DOE Review of the West Lake Landfill

St. Louis, MO: People and organizations following the ongoing issues at the West Lake Landfill applaud the bipartisan letter from Senator McCaskill, Senator Blunt, Representative Clay, and Representative Wagner sent to the Department of Energy. The bipartisan letter notes inconsistencies from the DOE regarding the West Lake Landfill and its qualifying as a FUSRAP site.  

“Republic Services has too much influence over the process at West Lake because it’s a Superfund site,” said Dawn Chapman of Just Moms STL. “Moving West Lake to FUSRAP reduces the influence of Republic Services while giving our community an independent second opinion regarding the removal of the radioactive wastes.” 

Radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill originated in North St. Louis County at the Hazelwood/Latty Avenue site currently being cleaned up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under FUSRAP. The Corps of Engineers collects the science to support the decision making for the radioactive materials. In contrast, because West Lake Landfill remains a Superfund site, financially responsible parties provide the science that determines the cleanup. The financially responsible parties include Republic Services, Exelon Energy, and the Department of Energy.

 “FUSRAP makes sense at the West Lake Landfill because all of the nuclear weapons radioactive sites in the St. Louis area need to be treated equally,” said Ed Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “The Corps of Engineers is already working with the EPA Superfund program at West Lake to provide technical assistance so a transfer to FUSRAP should be smooth because there is already site familiarity.”  

“Putting FUSRAP in charge at West Lake means the best government agency to make these decisions will be in charge,” said Gale Thackrey, eco-justice coordinator with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. “We know this is an uphill battle and encourage our elected officials to legislatively put FUSRAP in charge at West Lake if the DOE refuses to act on their request.”

Organizations and Individuals Supporting FUSRAP Include:

  • St. Louis County Council (unanimous, bipartisan resolution)
  • St. Charles County Council (unanimous, bipartisan resolution)
  • Pattonville School District
  • Pattonville Fire Protection District
  • DePaul Hospital SSM
  • North County Incorporated
  • City of Bridgeton
  • City of Black Jack
  • Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (district includes the West Lake Landfill)
  • Representative Bill Otto (district includes the West Lake Landfill)
  • Representative Keith English
  • Former St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley
  • Franciscan Sisters of Mary
  • Just Moms STL
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • Kay Drey 


Clean Power Plan release

Missouri Stakeholders Support State Effort to Develop Clean Power Plan

For immediate release: July 14, 2014

Missouri Stakeholders Support State Effort to Develop Clean Power Plan
State begins process to implement plan to reduce carbon pollution

Contact: Heather Navarro, Missouri Coalition for the Environment 
314.808.4345, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Key stakeholders will attend a Missouri Department of Natural Labadie 001smallResources (DNR) meeting today to support a state plan for reducing carbon pollution.

Today’s DNR meeting is one of the first with stakeholders to discuss the Environmental 
Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan released in June. The proposed EPA standards under the Clean Air Act would require Missouri to reduce its carbon pollution by 21percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

Key environmental groups, energy producers, faith organizations, and other stakeholders support efforts to craft a state plan that both reduces carbon pollution and benefits Missouri’s economy.

“Missouri has an opportunity to create jobs, spur energy innovation, and protect our health with a strong state plan that curbs carbon pollution,” said Heather Navarro of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Read more: Clean Power Plan...

Survey Shows Missouri Voters Support State Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution

 For immediate release: November 12, 2014

Contact: Heather Navarro, Missouri Coalition for the Environment
314.808.4345, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PJ Wilson, Renew Missouri
417.459.7468, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Survey shows 77% of Missouri voters support a state plan to cut carbon pollution

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Polling data released today by Clean Air Missouri shows Missouri voters overwhelming support a state plan that would reduce carbon pollution. Results from a statewide survey of 638 likely voters conducted in September by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, indicate 77% of Missourians favor a state plan that would reduce carbon pollution in Missouri by:

  • closing certain old, outdated and highly polluting coal power plants;
  • improving the efficiency of other existing coal plants;
  • making greater use of existing natural gas power plants;
  • increasing use of clean and renewable energy like wind and solar; and
  • expanding utility programs to help consumers improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their electricity bills. 

“This survey indicates Missourians are ready to do something about carbon pollution,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. ”We encourage the Governor and other state policy makers to implement a comprehensive state plan that reduces carbon pollution, increases the use of clean and renewable energy and expands energy efficiency to clean up our air, strengthen our economy and secure our energy future.”

Read more: Survey Shows...

Fighting for Missouri's Clean Energy Future




St. Louis, MO (June 24, 2014) – On June 23, 2014, Save Our Lawfully Authorized Rebates, LLC (“SOLAR”) and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (“MCE”) filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against the Missouri Public Service Commission (“PSC”) asking the Court to preserve the payment of solar rebates in Missouri, as mandated by the passage of Proposition C in 2008.

The lawsuit states that Ameren Missouri and Kansas City Power & Light have recently filed requests with the PSC to end all solar rebate payments. "It's been more than 5 years since Missouri voters approved a renewable energy standard and since that time we have seen one attack after another to erode the will of the voters,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE. "This lawsuit seeks to put Missouri back on track for a clean energy future that develops renewable sources now, for home grown jobs, clean air and a healthier climate for our children. Without it we are laying off workers today in exchange for cloudy predictions by utilities that there may be jobs in the future,” added Navarro.

Read more: Fighting for...

Group Appeals Court Decision on Renewable Energy Standard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 June 25, 2015

Contact: Henry Robertson, (314) 231-4181, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ed Smith, (314) 705-4975, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Group Appeals Renewable Energy Standard Circuit Court Decision

St. Louis, MO: Seven years after voter approval, the effort to fully implement Missouri's Renewable Energy Standard (RES) continued this week when the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), Missouri Solar Applications, LLC, and Thomas J. Sager appealed a Circuit Court decision denying an attempt to have the original Public Service Commission (PSC) RES rule implemented.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) stripped the local sourcing provision from the PSC's original rule. Local sourcing would have required investor-owned utilities to provide renewable energy generated in Missouri, or delivered to Missouri through transmission from neighboring states, to consumers in order for it to count toward the RES. The case will now go to the Missouri Supreme Court.

 “Missouri voters voted overwhelmingly for renewable energy in Missouri,” said plaintiff Tom Sager.  “Missouri legislators, against the will of the voters, seek to illegally obstruct the development of renewable energy in Missouri.  This obstructionism cannot be tolerated.”

JCAR’s actions currently allow investor-owned utilities to meet the RES by purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) from far away states that do not directly benefit Missouri’s economy or environment as intended by voters.

"The PSC read the law and decided it meant that renewable energy must be generated in Missouri or at least be consumed here,” said Henry Robertson, the lead attorney with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. “The utilities went crying to JCAR and got the legislature to undermine the will of the voters. It was not JCAR's job to undo the work of the PSC and deny Missourians the benefit of the law."


Legal Documents: 

Bridgeton Landfill Fire/West Lake Landfill News



WHEN:  Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.

WHERE: International Union of Operating Engineers - 3449 Hollenburg Dr., Bridgeton, MO 63044

The next West Lake Landfill public meeting welcomes several experts from near and far, including: Bob Alvarez, who served in the US Dept. of Energy under President Bill Clinton. Most recently Bob Alvarez has been working on the Plutonium mess at Hanford, Washington. More on Bob Alvarez here: http://www.ips-dc.org/staff/bob

Dr. Bob Criss from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Criss has challenged EPA Region 7's claim that it's only "leached barium sulfate" at the West Lake Landfill. More on Dr. Criss here: http://eps.wustl.edu/people/bob_criss

Peter Anderson, who has worked on landfill issues for much of his career. More on Peter Anderson here: http://www.competitivewaste.org/staff.htm

You can RSVP on Facebook.

Read the latest on West Lake Landfill from nuclear weapons waste expert, Robert Alverez.

Trenching Plan Under Fire

The October government shut down delayed steps to investigate the possiblity of whether a trench can be constructed to block the advance of the subsurface landfill fire at the Bridgeton Landfill near Earth City. The plan for the trench is the latest concept to prevent the underground fire from reaching the radioactive nuclear weaponse wastes which are in the northern portion of the landfill, closest to St. Charles Rock Road. 

MCE is raising concerns about the safety of the plan. The proposed plan includes clearing the site of shrubs and grasses which have been growing on the radioactive portion of the site for decades, helping to prevent the soil from washing away or blowing in the wind. Disturbance of the vegetation is a concern because some of the radioactivity is at the surface on the site.

 The latest from the St. Louis American.

Here's KWMU's story.

And one from the Republic in Columbus, Indiana.

And information about the County's role from KMOX

And KMOX on the testing 1 and the AP 2.

Amendment 7 is a Dead End

Thank you to everyone who helped defeat Amendment 7!

One thing all Missourians can get behind is the ability to get from one place to another safely. Whether the commute is twenty minutes or two hours, our livelihoods depend on us being able to get our families, our employees, and our goods from one place to another. As anyone on a road trip knows, there are many routes from A to B. This August, we will be asked to vote on Amendment 7, one proposal to address the state’s transportation needs – a constitutional amendment to impose a ¾ cent sales tax to pay for highway and transportation projects, the largest tax increase in Missouri’s history.

Read more: Amendment 7 is a...

Login Form